Jennifer Balkus

Assistant Professor, Epidemiology



PhD Epidemiology, University of Washington, 2012
MPH Epidemiology, University of Washington, 2005
BA Women Studies, Wesleyan University, 2000



Box 357236
Department of Epidemiology
Health Sciences Building, F-261E
Seattle, WA 98195


Dr. Balkus is an infectious disease epidemiologist whose research spans across the fields of sexual and reproductive health with a specific focus on questions that interface between the vaginal microbiome and STI & HIV prevention among both pregnant and non-pregnant people. Dr. Balkus is passionate about improving genital health for all people with a vagina and has contributed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention STD guidelines for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis.  She has expertise in conducting both clinical trials and observational studies, in the US and globally, and currently leads two NIH R01-supported research projects. The first is evaluating the relationship between vaginal bacterial and susceptibility to Chlamydia trachomatis infection among a cohort of cisgender women in Kenya. The second project is assessing opportunities to improve STI testing and treatment to reduce STI recurrence among a cohort of cisgender adolescent girls and young women in South Africa. Dr. Balkus is also an Affiliate Investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where she is an investigator with the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) and the Infectious Disease Clinical Research  Consortium (IDCRC). She serves on protocol teams for two ongoing MTN trials that are assessing the safety of the dapivirine vaginal ring in pregnant and postpartum breastfeeding individuals and an upcoming IDCRC trial assessing the SARS-CoV-2 immune response among pregnant individuals who receive different vaccine platforms during pregnancy. In addition to her research, Dr. Balkus teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in the School of Public Health and serves as the faculty co-chair or the Department of Epidemiology’s Equity and Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Research Interests

  • Vaginal microbiome
  • STI prevention
  • HIV risk prediction
  • Hormonal contraception
  • Women
  • Africa

Recent Publications (PubMed)

Assessing pregnancy and neonatal outcomes in Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe: Results from a systematic chart review.
PLoS One 16(3): e0248423
Balkus JE, Neradilek M, Fairlie L, Makanani B, Mgodi N, Mhlanga F, Nakabiito C, Mayo A, Harrell T, Piper J, Bunge KE, MTN-042B Study Team.

Likely clinical depression and HIV-related decline in antiretroviral therapy untreated women who seroconverted during participation in microbicide trials in sub-Saharan Africa.
(2021 Jun)
Int J STD AIDS 32(7): 620-628
Rael CT, Roberts S, Ibitoye M, Gorbach PM, Palanee-Phillips T, Harkoo I, Mbilizi Y, Panchia R, Siva S, Tembo T, Agwau Akello C, Balkus J, Riddler S, Carballo-Diéguez A

Vaginal Bacteria and Risk of Incident and Persistent Infection With High-Risk Subtypes of Human Papillomavirus: A Cohort Study Among Kenyan Women.
(2021 Jul 1)
Sex Transm Dis 48(7): 499-507
Carter KA, Srinivasan S, Fiedler TL, Anzala O, Kimani J, Mochache V, Wallis JM, Fredricks DN, McClelland RS, Balkus JE

Genetic Variation in Toll-Like Receptor 5 and Colonization with Flagellated Bacterial Vaginosis-Associated Bacteria.
(2021 Feb 16)
Infect Immun 89(3):
Dela Cruz EJ, Fiedler TL, Liu C, Munch MM, Kohler CM, Oot AR, Wallis JM, Wang J, Frishman A, Garcia K, Wiser A, Balkus JE, Srinivasan S, Golob JL, Sycuro LK, Marrazzo JM, Hawn TR, Fredricks DN

Association Between Vaginal Bacterial Microbiota and Vaginal Yeast Colonization.
(2021 Mar 3)
J Infect Dis 223(5): 914-923
Eastment MC, Balkus JE, Richardson BA, Srinivasan S, Kimani J, Anzala O, Schwebke J, Fiedler TL, Fredricks DN, McClelland RS

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